Occupational Therapy, M.S.

Occupational Therapy, M.S.


In response to the growing demand for health care professionals both regionally and nationally, the College of Health Sciences at Point Loma Nazarene University is offering a new graduate-level master’s in occupational therapy program.

The Occupational Therapy Profession

Occupational therapists (OTs) enable people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health and prevent — or live better with — injury, illness, or disability. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA, 2018), “As an inclusive profession, occupational therapy maximizes health, well-being, and quality of life for all people, populations, and communities through effective solutions that facilitate participation in everyday living.” 

As health care professionals, OTs specialize in restoring clients’ abilities to engage in instrumental activities of daily living, i.e., work, play, education, leisure, rest, social participation, and financial and home management skills. OTs work in various settings including pediatrics, geriatrics, orthopedics, neurology, physical rehabilitation, mental health, and in school systems. 

Necessary attributes and skills of an Occupational Therapist:

  • Communication: Effectively ask the patient questions and educate the patient’s family and employer about necessary accommodations.
  • Organization: Develop complex treatment plans for patients that require high organizational skills.
  • Goal-oriented: Encourage patients as they work toward improvement, and work to implement treatment goals.
  • Active: Be physically fit to aid clients with various disabilities and effectively demonstrating exercises.
  • Strong writing skills: Be able to write quickly and practically to assess and record patients’ activities and progress.

PLNU Program Highlights

Students in the occupational therapy program at PLNU can expect a hands-on, evidence-based master’s curriculum that prepares you to improve the health and wellness of others. Students will connect with fellow healthcare professionals and clients, as well as serve within a variety of academic, clinical, and community settings.

In keeping with the mission of the University, the mission of the PLNU Occupational Therapy program is to produce competent and professional graduates who provide evidenced-based and occupation focused  interventions that serve others as an expression of faith. 

As a Christian community shaped by grace, truth, and holiness as a way of life, Point Loma Nazarene University and the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy Program are committed to pursue and reflect the diversity, inclusion, and equity of the kingdom of God portrayed in scripture. We believe that every human being is created in the image of God and that our diverse identities, experiences, and abilities enrich our learning community.

Program Learning Outcomes

The Point Loma Nazarene University Master’s in Occupational Therapy Program Graduate will be able to:

  1. Use critical reasoning to provide evidence-based occupational therapy services across the lifespan, in a variety of service delivery models, health care settings, and community-based systems.
  2. Develop and utilize a therapeutic use of self during client interactions, which supports the client’s engagement in occupational therapy, and achievement of the clients’ goals.
  3. Provide services within a client-centered and occupation-based framework, with consideration of contextual factors, which influence a person, groups’ and/or populations’ ability to engage in meaningful occupational tasks and roles.
  4. Demonstrate compliance with legal, ethical, and professional standards when interacting with clients, service providers, and/or systems.
  5. Exhibit the ability to document, manage, and evaluate outcomes of services provided.
  6. Develop clinical programs, which meet a need for underserved persons, groups, and/or populations in the community.
  7. Embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion in clinical practice through the delivery of high quality, accessible, and culturally responsive care within a technological and global environment.
  8. Advance the awareness and ability to work collaboratively with inter-disciplinary team members to enhance the provision of client-centered, quality occupational therapy services.


Point Loma Nazarene University's Master of Science in Occupational Therapy has been granted program accreditation by the Western Association of Senior Colleges and University Commission (WSCUC). WSCUC can be contacted at 1080 Marina Village Parkway, Suite 500, Alameda, CA 94501: (510) 748-9001.

The entry-level occupational therapy master’s degree program at PLNU has applied for accreditation and has been granted Candidacy Status by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929. ACOTE’s telephone number c/o AOTA is (301) 652-AOTA and its web address is www.acoteonline.org. The program must have a pre accreditation review, complete an on-site evaluation, and be granted Accreditation Status before its graduates will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapist administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be an Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR). In addition, all states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination. Note that a felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.   

Additionally, students must complete 24 weeks of Level II fieldwork within 18 months following completion of the didactic portion of the program.

PLNU OT student practices helping a person use the toilet
Two photos shot OT students in lab, the left helping someone out of a tub and the right someone balancing and catching a ball.
MS-OT student trains for her career by helping a person in a kitchen
Left: Man helps a person from bed into a wheelchair. Right: OT student helps a man put on his jacket.


Program Policies and Procedures

Students enrolled in the Occupational Therapy program must read and follow the Occupational Therapy Student Handbook.

National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT®) Exam Pass Rate

The Point Loma Nazarene University Master of Science in Occupational Therapy Department will publish its Occupational Therapy National Certification Exam (NBCOT®) pass rates for the five most recent graduating classes when this information becomes available.

PLNU Licensure and Professional Certifications Information

Point Loma Nazarene University has determined that completion of the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy degree prepares graduates to apply for licensure in any of the 50 states. Licensure is required for occupational therapists and each state sets its own requirements for a license as an occupational therapist. To obtain a license, an individual must graduate from a U.S. OT program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE®) and pass the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapists (NBCOT®).

For more information about PLNU’s master’s in occupational therapy program, contact ot@pointloma.edu. You can also contact the occupational therapy program director, Beth Sullivan, OTR/L, OTD, at bsulliva@pointloma.edu.

Application Information

Program Start Date(s):

  • Fall 2024 —  September 2, 2024

Application Deadline(s):

  • Priority Application Deadline — Friday, March 1, 2024
  • Application Deadline — June 7, 2024
  • The 2024 OTCAS Cycle opens July 21, 2023.

OT Centralized Application Service (OTCAS)

  • The Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program utilizes the portal, the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Services (OTCAS) for submission of all applicant information.
  • The application cycle for the year 2023 opens July 21, 2022 and closes July 1, 2023.
  • To learn more about the OTCAS application process and to create your OTCAS account, please visit the OTCAS portal. The deadline for having a complete and verified OTCAS application is indicated on the Occupational Therapy program page.
  • All documents related to admission must be uploaded to the OTCAS will be automatically sent to the graduate admissions office.
  • Your application will be reviewed when the OTCAS application has been verified. Prerequisite courses must be completed by April 1, 2023. Interviews will be conducted in the fall and winter either virtually or in person as safety dictates. Admissions will occur on a rolling basis after the completion of either a fall or spring interview until the cohort of 40 students is filled or at latest, by early July 2023.
  • For more information about how to navigate OTCAS, please refer to this video. 

Admission Requirements

Pre-requisite Courses:

  • One semester of each of the following, each course completed with a grade of a “B-” or better:
    • Anatomy & Physiology (A & P) I with lab (must be completed within the past 5 years)
    • Anatomy & Physiology (A & P) II with lab (must be completed within the past 5 years)
    • In lieu of a combined A & P, you may take one semester of anatomy and one semester of physiology. Online and in-person classes accepted. 
  • One semester of each of the following; each course completed with a grade of a “B-” or better within the past 10 years. Courses can be taken online.
    • Abnormal Psychology (3 units)
    • Lifespan Development or Developmental Psychology or Human Development (3 units)
    • Medical Terminology (at least 1 unit).
    • Introductory Statistics (in behavioral or social sciences) (3 units)
      • High School AP statistics course credit may be accepted based on the Program Director/Admission Committee Review. 
  • Sociology, Anthropology or Social Psychology (3 units)
  • These courses may be taken at any regionally accredited community, public, or private college or university. Online courses at regionally accredited colleges are also acceptable for psychology, sociology, anthropology, or statistics courses.
  • You may have up to 6 credit hours of prerequisite courses in progress at the time of application to the program. If you are accepted into the program while currently enrolled in one to eight required prerequisite courses, you will be provisionally accepted. The provisional acceptance will be changed to full acceptance once transcripts are received that confirm successful completion of outstanding prerequisite courses that are aligned with the criteria above.

*Students looking to fulfill their anatomy prerequisite have the option to complete it through PLNU's Anatomy Learning Institute

Grade Point Average (GPA):

  • Applicants must meet a minimum GPA of 3.0 in their most recent 60 semester units of work, including both graduate and undergraduate coursework.
  • Pre-requisite courses may only be repeated once; the second course grade will be used to calculate the average GPA.

Undergraduate Degree:

  • Completion of an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited university.

Letters of Reference:

  • Once you have submitted your admissions application, your three selected professional recommenders will automatically be sent the auto-generated document to complete on your behalf. If you'd like to include a written letter in addition to this required document, you may do so, but it's unnecessary. You will be provided with the link on OTCAS.

Observation Hours:

  • A minimum of 40 observation hours (virtual or in-person) are required. Documentation of hours should be uploaded to the OTCAS. In lieu of observation hours, however, students may watch videos and write a paper about the OT profession from viewing the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) website’s career resources. Refer to below for more details on this second option. 
  • For students submitting proof of knowledge about the OT profession gained from the AOTA website, address the following points in a well-thought out summary that does not exceed three pages. You will send this documentation to the graduate admissions office.
    • What were the OT practice areas discussed in the AOTA career videos?
    • How do current OT practice areas support the original tenets of the OT profession?
    • What surprised you about the OT profession?
    • What practice areas resonated with you and why?
  • Additionally, there is a 20-hour video learning platform that can be used to obtain credit for 20 observation hours. The cost of this video learning is $49.99 and can be located on the site ClinEdWeb. Send completed certificate to gradinfo@pointloma.edu

National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) Early Determination Review:

  • The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) requires disclosure of all felony convictions. The results of this background check may impact eligibility for certification and licensure. If you are concerned about your eligibility due to past legal or mental health conditions, it is strongly advised to complete the NBCOT® early determination review process. Felony convictions may be resolved by the NBCOT®’s Qualifications Review Committee. For more information, refer to https://nbcot.org.

View the Complete Admission Requirements

Graduation Requirements

To earn and receive a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy degree, a student must satisfy all the following:

  • Successful completion of all didactic educational requirements.
  • Successful completion of two, 12-week, Level II Fieldwork experiences.
  • A completed application for degree candidacy conveyed to the Office of Record.
  • Payment in full of all tuition, fees, and other financial obligations owed to the university, including a degree processing fee.
  • All requirements completed within five years from the time of initial enrollment.

Career Opportunities

Job Outlook for Occupational Therapists

More than 143,000 occupational therapists (OTs) are currently active in the U.S., and the job outlook is growing faster than the national average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In fact, the BLS reports the demand for occupational therapists will grow 16% between 2019 and 2029. As of 2020, occupational therapists made an average of $86,280 per year. 

Also, according to U.S. News & World Report, occupational therapy ranked in the top 10 healthcare jobs of 2021, as well as 31st in its “Best 100 Jobs List” and 10th in its “Best Healthcare Jobs List.”

The main responsibilities of occupational therapists include treating injured, sick, or disabled patients by reteaching and helping them complete everyday activities. They utilize intervention therapy, adaptive equipment (such as wheelchairs, eating aids, etc.), and teach basic skills (such as managing time, budgeting, etc.) in order to help their patients move and function on their own.  

Occupational therapists work with a variety of patients in many different places, including the classroom, work environments, and mental health settings. They also work with people of all ages, from infants to seniors.

Financial Aid and Student Support

We take seriously the role of providing you with financial, academic, and career support so you have the tools you need to be successful at PLNU and beyond. That’s why we offer a holistic support system that focuses on your unique experiences, particular needs, and personal and professional goals — resulting from our deep concern for you, our student.

With a focus on authentic relationships and personalized attention, our goal is to help transform you so you can follow your calling in your own career and life.

Financial Aid and Student Support

Tuition/Credit UnitNumber of Credit Units/SemesterTotal Tuition Cost
Fall Semester$1,200.0014$16,800.00
Spring Semester$1,200.0016$19,200.00
Summer Semester$1,200.0011$13,200.00
Total Tuition Year One  $49,200.00
Program Fees Year One  $211.00
Lab Fees Year One  $695.00
Fall Semester 2024$1,236.0014$17,304.00
Spring Semester$1,236.0015$18,540.00
Summer Semester$1,236.006$7,416.00
Fall Semester$1,236.006$7,416.00
Total Tuition Year Two*  $50,676.00
Total Program Fees Year Two*  $233.00
Total Lab Fee Year Two*  $321.00
Graduation Fee  $120.00
Tuition/Credit UnitNumber of Credit Units/SemesterTotal Tuition Cost
Fall Semester$1,236.0014$17,304.00
Spring Semester$1,236.0016$19,776.00
Summer Semester$1,236.0011$13,596.00
Total Tuition Year One  $50,676.00
Program Fees Year One  $211.00
Lab Fees Year One  $695.00
Fall Semester 2025$1,273.0014$17,823.00
Spring Semester$1,273.0015$19,097.00
Summer Semester$1,273.006$7,639.00
Fall Semester$1,273.006$7,639.00
Total Tuition Year Two*  $52,197.00
Total Program Fees Year Two*  $240.00
Total Lab Fee Year Two*  $331.00
Graduation Fee  $120.00

*Estimated 3-4% increase in costs for year two tuition, program, and lab fees.

**Program fees are utilized for professional organization memberships, required clinical clothing, and access to online educational resources. Lab fees are associated with supplies used in lab courses. Total costs for this 27-month program does not include health requirements needed to enter the program and/or to fulfill fieldwork requirements, clinical site parking costs, housing during clinical experiences, and transportation to clinical sites.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is required to be admitted into this program?

To be admitted into PLNU's MSOT program, you must have a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution, as evidenced by an official transcript that indicates the completion of an undergraduate degree. You must also have an undergraduate cumulative GPA of at least 3.0.

How many days/week do classes meet?

Classes may be scheduled Monday-Friday, between 8-5 p.m.

Can I work while completing this program?

This program is a fully face-to-face, hands-on program that will require a full-time commitment. It is challenging to work more than part-time due to the demands of this program but this is an individual decision.

What is the minimum number of observation hours needed to apply?

A minimum of 40 hours of observation is required prior to the application deadline;  preferably in more than one occupational therapy setting. However, there are alternative methods of gaining observation hours. Refer to our PLNU OT website and/or OTCAS for alternative methods.

How many cohorts start each year?

One cohort of 40 students will start each year at the end of August/fall term.

Is the GRE required for admission?

No, the GRE is not required. If provided in OTCAS, your GRE score will not be reviewed by the PLNU MSOT admissions committee.

What are fieldwork expectations?

Fieldwork Level 1 is scheduled during terms 5 & 6 and can be performed in many different occupational therapy settings, and generally allows the students “real world” experiences under the direction of a licensed OT. The student is required to successfully complete three Level 1 Fieldwork experiences to progress to next courses and Level II fieldwork.
Fieldwork Level 2 consists of two, 12-week assignments at various occupational therapy settings under the direct supervision of an occupational therapist. Students work closely with the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator to determine the best location and OT environment for the student.

Will I have to travel for my Level II fieldwork?

Most students will need to travel to a clinical site, which may be located anywhere in the United States. Every effort is being made to secure sites in the San Diego area and southern CA, but due to the high demand for clinical placement sites, you may be expected to travel within the U.S.

Can I transfer credits to PLNU's MSOT from another program?

No, the PLNU MSOT program does not accept transfer credits from another university.

Are international students able to apply?

Yes! As an international student, you can apply as a senior in university or any time after you obtain your bachelor’s degree. If you earned your baccalaureate degree outside of the United States, all documents must be translated into English and evaluated by members of National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES). You must also submit official proof of English proficiency (TOEFL). Please contact Graduate Financial Aid and Student Support Services for more information.

We also will accept a 110 minimum score from DuoLingo as proof of proficiency. 

PLNU is a Christian university, but I am not a Christian. Would I feel out of place in this program?

We welcome and encourage people of all backgrounds as students in our programs. Issues that relate to faith may be discussed in some classes, and engaging in discussion with individuals with alternative points of view will be encouraged as learning opportunities. Students will work within a learning community that is supportive academically, spiritually, and emotionally.

Course List

For information about the courses required for the Occupational Therapy, M.S. program, view the PLNU Catalog. 

Course Information

Students can enroll in this online course to meet the anatomy prerequisites requirement.

Anatomy Prerequisite